V Vernacular

03/01/2007 (5:16 pm)

The Rise of the Silver Catcher

It’s promotion schedule time! This year it’s mostly the old standards — a night where you can win the game worn jerseys (tastefully abbreviated as JOOB on the schedule), t-shirt giveaways, bat nights, hat nights, and plenty of kids running the bases all summer long. They also offer a sneak preview of the Heap statue they’ll be giving out on July 19:

I guess it’s silver because he got the Silver Slugger last year? Either way, the likeness is astounding.

More than any of these other giveaways and special events, everyone must make sure to mark their calendars for the September 9th game against the Nationals, when the Braves will have Bark in the Park (one of TWO Barks scheduled in the Park this season!), Pet Calendar Night (if you don’t have the 06-07 calender that features Rent staring lovingly at his goldfish, “Little Edgar,” you’re really missing the hell out) AND Girl Scout Night. I know, you’re thinking, Girl Scout Night? What’s the big deal? Well, last year we happened to show up on one of the Girl Scout days, and they had five hundred little girls parading around the field with their mothers before the game, and who had to walk out into right field to practice throwing with the starting pitcher while all of this was going on? Why, Heap, of course! He looked like he was afraid he was hallucinating. Then a rogue mom broke away from the crowd and ran to him before the security people could stop her, got his autograph and ran back, dragging her poor daughter with her. It was fantastic.

I listened to most of the game against the Dodgers on MLB radio today. All good news: we won 7-2, Davies had a good mini-start. Brayan Pena and Thor both benefited from really hustling down to first, beating out tags that would have been made easily if they hadn’t. Corky Miller, Escobar, Salty and Frenchy had some of the more memorable hits, and Paronto and Yates were fine to close it out. On the Dodgers side, Betemit was making errors all over the place, and LaRoche’s ridiculously good looking younger brother played a little third base.

A few pictures from the two games played so far

Am I the only person who can’t get enough awkward videos of Heap signing stuff for people? Probably, but do enjoy the above if you’re so inclined. I particularly like the part where Heap picks up that guy’s used tissue and inspects it curiously, and I love how the kid immediately sniffs the card after Heap signs it (for authenticity purposes?), then accuses him of signing it with glue.

02/27/2007 (6:16 pm)

“Whatever. We’ve Got Yoga.”

I’m starting to feel the pangs of real discouragement for the first time this preseason: Hampton says he’s a no go, despite Bobby’s optimism. I don’t know what scares me more, the idea that Hampton might flake out this season, or the possibility that Bobby’s ability to judge who is capable and who isn’t is fading. Last season sure made it look that way, with the Jordan platoon at first, keeping Pratt around when he might have tried Pena a little earlier, and the Reitsma Reign of Terror that Bobby staunchly supported well into June. If Hampton was an irresponsible jackass like Reitsma and wanted to hide an injury (or discomfort, in this case), we might have been in real trouble until the assassination attempts began around the All-Star break.

Maybe I’m taking Bobby’s ra-ra quotes to the press too literally, but I did notice his willingness to give eighth, tenth, thousandth chances significantly hurting the team last year. At any rate, good for Hampton for admitting when things are not right — I guess. I know pitchers have a tendency to be delicate flowers and sometimes wilt more readily than they need to. There’s really no telling, but either way, this leaves us with only three starting pitchers. Shit. No wonder everyone keeps talking about the bullpen nonstop . . .

Again, I need pictures to calm me down

I miss Maddux. This exchange from his recent interview with the AJC had me crying laughing:

Q: What are you thinking today?

A: I’m thinking today, whatever. We’ve got yoga today. So I’m going to go in there and do a little yoga, get all stretched out, then work on the fundamentals and figure out what to do until it gets dark.

Just the idea of Maddog doing the Downward Facing Dog pose makes me feel better about everything. And I can’t wait to hear about how Harrison does in his start against Tech tomorrow. Fun with rookies! Too bad I can’t watch on TV or even listen on the radio . . . around 1:00 I’m going to be going crazy just knowing there is Braves baseball going on somewhere without me.

02/26/2007 (6:17 pm)

“You Want Me to Throw a Changeup With a Pepper?”

Still not a lot of news out of camp, save that Harrison will pitch against Tech on Wednesday, and Davies will start against the Dodgers on Thursday, meaning Smoltzie will start against the Pirates for the first televised game on Friday! I’m very excited to see that, and to hear about how Harrison and Davies perform.

Dave O’Brien did a little around-camp perspective on his blog today, which sounds a lot more interesting than it actually is. To surmise: Thor is a power hitter (who’d have thought), Gonzo is looking good so far, Soriano still doesn’t want to be friends with Dave, and Diaz is still hitting impressively. Dave mentions that some of his ingenious readers have already accused Diaz of using steroids based on what they’ve heard from camp, which is a real “I wish there was some way I could physically harm you via the internet” moment for me, not just because I personally like and respect Matt Diaz and don’t understand what the big deal is — he hit well last year, too, for power and otherwise, Bobby just never played him — but mostly because it just astounds me that someone can show up looking exactly like he did the year before and still get accused of using something after the first mention of hitting for power. Incredible. It also amazes me that Dave thinks he even needs to acknowledge such idiocy.

To lighten the mood, enjoy some pictures from AJC and Yahoo

One more for the road:

Barry Zito, ladies and gentlemen.

Rookie hazing is so cringe inducing for me. I’ve never been one to find men in drag hilarious as a rule. Check out what the Mets are making their rookies do – yikes! Oh wait, they all have to do that. Damn, that’s rough.

02/23/2007 (9:15 am)

The Official Cole Slaw of the Atlanta Braves

From yesterday’s Braves Notes, this is the best thing I’ve heard since they reported:

If Matt Diaz continues to punish the baseball the same way that he’s done the first two days in camp, his defensive woes may not be a hindrance in his attempt to beat out Ryan Langerhans and Craig Wilson for playing time in left field.

I hope to God they’re serious about this. Overusing platoons really contributed to the slaughter last year, and I want Diaz to get that job so badly. I really feel like he could improve defensively if they just expressed some confidence in him.

Speaking of confidence, Soriano has finally arrived at camp and he informs us that the rumors of his post-traumatic stress syndrome have been greatly exaggerated:

“I’m not scared, I’m not a little kid.”

I have to say, I kind of appreciate Soriano’s “how dare you” attitude about the whole thing. Bohn, who played with him in Seattle, describes him as “cocky” in those Braves Notes. After suffering through a certain Canadian openly crying on the mound last year and then returning to the dugout to eat towels (this really happened in Chicago, he took a bite out of a towel and chewed it, then the camera cut away, so I’m not sure if he swallowed), I’m all for somebody cocky out there.

The Braves Notes also mention Hampton having “significant discomfort,” which is terrifying and kind of shoved down at the bottom of the page like nobody wants to think about it much, but I guess there’s no need to panic yet. There is also talk of maybe making McBride a starter, because he’s improved a lot. I could actually see this; I don’t think he works too well in the pressure of late innings, but he’s definitely got the stuff when he’s not having a panic attack out there. So, interesting.

Pictures: Get Ready for Cheesy Team Portraits!

Sports Gone South, via Deadspin, brought my attention to a rap about the Braves that is featured on the ChopTalk website. Just scroll down, it’s on the left. I got through three whole seconds of it before I turned it off, so, enjoy!

I was more interested in the “Bonus ChopTalk Recipes!” featured on the website, but they’re just normal recipes, not “Nicole Jones’ Turkey Chili” or “Heap’s Girlfriend’s Homemade Donuts” or anything cool like that, so that was kind of a letdown as well.

02/21/2007 (4:32 pm)

“What’s Wrong With My Hair?”

I actually thought the beginning of this Dave O’Brien blog was kinda funny. I’m scared for my sanity, naturally. But there are also some good quotes there for those of you who aren’t losing your minds, including some from Wilson about his hair (“what’s wrong with it?”) and Gonzalez’s girlfriend (“hot”). Also, apparently Rent has arrived, though I’ve yet to see a picture of him. His conversation with Dave about Shakira is rather great.

Pictures from Yahoo and AJC

I’ll leave you guys with this:

We may have our problems — nervous second basemen, no fifth starter, indifferent owners — but at least we’re not Yankee fans. It looks really painful.

02/20/2007 (6:40 pm)

Andruw’s Culinary Adventures

Andruw has arrived at camp, amid lots of questions and speculation about what he’ll do next season. I’m sure it’s on his nerves, and it’s damn well started to get on mine. It’s unlikely that he knows what he’s going to do at this point, and even if he did, he’s not going to talk about it. Not now, not after the All-Star break, probably not until the offseason.

I’m much more interested in talk of his weight loss, personally. Apparently he gained an extra twenty pounds in Japan because the guys ate KFC and McDonald’s every day while they were over there for their All-Star game. Geez, he could have at least tried Kobe steak or some shrimp tempura. But anyway, the story is that he bet his wife he could lose weight faster than her, and she won because he was “partying.” Nicole Jones is my favorite Braves wife by far, and I appreciate her scheme to get Andruw at least relatively back in shape. Smoltz claims Andruw looks like he did in 2005, a career year for him, so hopefully he’ll give us a season to remember him by, just in case he does leave.

Tons of great pictures from Yahoo Sports

02/02/2007 (10:17 am)

Offseason Antics

There’s always plenty of coverage about whatever douchebag things the Yankees get up to in the offseason, such as running their perfume empires and, well . . . whatever is going on here. But what about our Braves, who are more “openly reviled” by the mainstream sports media than actually “covered?” What have they been up to since October?

Marriage, Babies, and Ugly Sweaters

So there you have it: while the Yankees are running around lighting cigars with embarrassing flourish and naming fragrances after themselves, our guys are representing Atlanta well with their handyman jobs and relatively normal lives, getting dragged around to look at wedding invitations with their fiancees and such. Keep up the good work, boys.

The Braves Fan Fest is happening tomorrow at Tuner Field, so if you’re into waiting in line for autographs, head on over there. I think I’m going to pass, but I’ll be eagerly awaiting any pictures from the event, which will allow me to keep tabs on the changing hairstyles and ridiculous sweaters of my Atlanta Braves.

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